E.T.A. Hoffmann By Makenzie Ladd and Josh Baumgard
E.T.W. Hoffmann…? • Jan. 24, 1776 -- Born Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann, but later substituted Amadeus for Wilhelm in admiration of his idol, Amadeus Mozart. • His father, Christoff Ludwig, left the family when Hoffmann was two years old with Hoffmann’s older brother, forcing he and his mother to move in with Hoffmann’s grandmother, aunts, and uncle after his mother fell ill. • Otto Wilhelm Doerffer, his uncle, taught him to play piano, violin, harp, and guitar. When he was thirteen, he began to compose music and developed an interest in literature and the visual arts. • When he was sixteen, he entered Konigsberg University to study law. During his free time, studied literature and music. • Hoffmann supported himself during college by giving music lessons. He fell in love with his student Dora Hatt, a woman ten years older than him who was married. After ending the affair, he based the story “The Deed of Entail” on their relationship. • He later became engaged to his first cousin, Minna Doerffer, while living in Berlin.
After being promoted in the legal system, Hoffmann moved to Poland where he began drinking. His satirical drawings of other legal officials earned him a demotion. • Hoffmann married Michaelina Rorer after breaking off his unhappy engagement to his cousin. He took a job conducting while in Poland. • During 1806, Napolean’s army invaded and dissolved the city’s legal system. Hoffmann sent his wife and daughter Cacilila away for their protection. His two-year old daughter died soon after. • He resumed giving music lessons, and became obsessed with one of his students, fourteen-year old Julia Mark. Hoffmann used his feelings of unattainable love as a major theme in his later literary works. • In 1809, Hoffmann wrote “Ritter Gluck”, a story that launched Hoffmann’s career as a writer. It also came to define his writing style, as many of his stories feature ambiguity, multiple meanings, and the supernatural.
Hoffmann of the Ghosts • As a conductor during the war, Hoffmann wrote his opera masterpiece “Undine”. • Upon his move to Berlin, he accepted a position in a court and rose to the position of judge on the supreme court of appeals. • At the end of the war, Prussia appointed Hoffmann to a council that investigated fabricated crimes brought against liberal intellectuals. • In his story “Master Flea”, Hoffmann criticized the legal proceedings and was interrogated by the police. He was forced to write a legal defense while enduring severe illness and escaped legal repercussions when he died on June 25, 1822 from paralysis of the nervous system.
Hoffmann’s Works • “The Deed of Entail”– On which Edgar Allan Poe based a story. • The Mask – A singspiel that blends opera music and spoken dialogue. • “Ritter Gluck” – Best represents Hoffmann as a writer. • “The Golden Pot”– Hoffmann considered this story to be his best work. • The Devil’s Elixir – A novel. • Undine – Established reputation. • “The Sandman” – Freud’s essay • “The Mines of Falun” • “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” • The Mademoiselle de Scuderi
______________ • Air of mystery and impending doom • Telepathy, optical illusions, and hallucinations • Ghosts, villains, murderers, and madmen • Mesmerism, animal magnetism, sleepwalking, and clairvoyance • Fairytales, nocturnal adventures, supernatural • Ambiguity, multiple meanings, the uncanny • A “divide of self” between the security of a regular life and the desire for art and music
The German Romanticist • Influenced Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Franz Kafka, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Leo Tolstoy, Alfred Hitchcock, and many others. • “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King” inspired Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. • “The Sandman” inspired Delibes’s ballet Coppelia. • Jacques Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffmann is based on his life. • “The Deed of Entail” inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Fall of the House of Usher”. • Said to have written the first detective story, Mademoiselle de Scuderi. • His music reviews of Beethoven, Mozart, and other composers set an example for later music critics. • Freud analyzed many of Hoffmann’s works for their psychological aspects. • Was called “Hoffmann of the Ghosts” for his interest in the supernatural.
Hoffmann’s inner struggle between his dualistic life of legal service and art best defines him as a writer:“It is something genuinely characteristic of my life that what happens is invariably what I least expect, whether for the worst or for the best, and that I am always compelled to do what runs counter to my deepest convictions.”--E.T.A. Hoffman, in a letter written to a friend in 1814.